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Who’s who on the President’s private guest list
by Tim Reid    Timesonline
Entered into the database on Saturday, May 21st, 2005 @ 14:23:14 MST


Untitled Document THE professional golfer Ben Crenshaw, a Texas Supreme Court judge and dozens of major donors to President Bush’s re-election campaign were rewarded with overnight stays at the White House or Camp David last year.

Mr Bush and his wife Laura entertained 152 adult guests to sleepovers in the presidential mansion or Maryland retreat, in what some critics contend is little different to Bill Clinton allowing donors to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom, a practice that triggered a scandal during his presidency.

Larry Noble, of the nonpartisan watchdog the Centre for Responsive Politics, said that while the practice of inviting donors to spend the night at the White House and Camp David was not new, Mr Bush’s invitations smacked of Mr Clinton’s use of the presidential homes. US law prohibits the use of the White House for soliciting campaign funds.

“It sounds to a certain degree that the White House and Camp David are being used as they have been for quite a while — as a way to reward fundraisers and big givers,” Mr Noble told USA Today, which along with the Associated Press obtained Mr Bush’s guest list after requesting it from the White House. “It’s similar to what we saw in the Clinton White House, when Clinton was attacked for allegedly trading White House sleepovers for campaign donations.”

Mr Clinton always denied that he solicited funds when he invited an array of big donors and Hollywood celebrities to sleep at the White House.

Unlike Mr Clinton’s guest list, Mr Bush’s is almost devoid of celebrity content, except for Mr Crenshaw, who spent the night at the White House with his wife Julie. Mr Crenshaw, a longtime friend of the President’s, raised at least $100,000 for the 2004 campaign.

The White House pointed out yesterday that many of the donors who stayed overnight were also longstanding friends.

About a third of the 152 guests were fundraisers or donors, but half of those were family or old friends.Among the guests were people who raised at least $100,000 for his campaign, including Alice Carrington, a Texan art dealer who was named to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Also listed were several “Rangers”, people who raised at least $200,000, including John O’ Neill, a Texan businessman who introduced Mr Bush to his wife Laura. All are old friends. The Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht was also a guest.

At least seven of Mrs Bush’s former classmates at Southern Methodist University in Dallas stayed overnight, as did classmates of Mr Bush’s from Yale